I cannot stop thinking of the importance of gentle speech...whether you believe someone is grieving or not, it is a humane practice to build into your personality. And, I think often of the prose written by Henry Scott Holland following the death of King Edward VII, titled "Death the King of Terrors." The piece is written as if by one who has died, who wants to stay connected to the living in a wholesome, loving, easy manner.
If you have lost someone, as the weeks and months go by, you may find it difficult or impossible to perform the function many will tell you is necessary, which is to "let them go."
No one really knows what that means, anyway. Shall we stop thinking of them? Shall we attempt to behave like robots and pretend the sadness came and went like magic? Or shall we open to the possibility that there is a way to let love continue after a loved one's heart has stopped beating? Here is Holland's beautiful piece of writing, which I have posted in poetic style, although he wrote it as prose.
Death is nothing at all
Death is nothing at all. It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
(c) 2016 Sheridan Hill
Sequoya was a rescue dog, one of a handful of husky-mix puppies wandering around their chained-up mother in a dirt yard. When I inherited her, she was a muscular, overly-frisky wild child who resisted being leashed and refused to come in the house.
I bought dog training books and became a frequent watcher of "Dog Whisperer" programs, hoping the show's star would be presented with an athletic, alpha husky like my Sequoya, and then I'd know exactly how to handle her.
She was an unstoppable hunter of rabbits and squirrels and once --with great prowess and some difficulty-- killed a 12-pound groundhog before my eyes. Twice she ate my sister's lap dog, and then spit her back out. It turned out she had expertly mouthed the quivering little thing, not putting a scratch on it...but effectively stopping its barking for the rest of the visit.
Over the next eleven years, I put in thousands of hours training Sequoya, petting her, brushing her, talking to her, walking her at odd hours of the day to minimize contact with other dogs, and running her in the woods.
She took more of my time and got more of my love any other animal I'd ever had. She survived heartworms, and the awful arsenic heartworm treatment. Then, when she received a cancer diagnosis, her spirit was unphased...until the very end.
When I buried her in a shady place in the back yard, she had essentially been my life partner for nearly a dozen years. Sometimes I still "see" her guarding the yard, and hear her unfettered howl of joy which was her consistent greeting to me whenever I approached.
I see her, I remember her, and I cherish those memories.
Grief may have no end…but it changes.
Grief is not a sign of weakness,
nor a lack of faith.
Grief is the price of love.
Tuesday, July 26 is both our next grief circle and my birthday, so my capable friend Michael Galovic will facilitate the circle.
We meet at 6 pm for an hour of comfort and sharing at the Swannanoa Valley Friends Meetinghouse, 137 Center Avenue, Black Mountain, NC.
You are encouraged to look for an object, a song, a poem, or some creative expression of your grief and to bring it with you to the circle. Speaking and sharing are optional but encouraged.
Reflections from a grief dula to help others navigate the waters of grief. Blog posts here are copyrighted and are part of an upcoming book. Please quote with attribution. Sheridan Hill